Earlier this year, we received official confirmation that the Federal Aviation Authority had published its new set of specifications for construction under the FAA’s authority at more than 19,000 airports in the U.S. That was good news for the precast concrete industry. After several years of working closely with the FAA’s senior pavement engineers during the updating of specifications, we helped convert an outdated coarse aggregate specification that favored cast-in-place concrete to new precast-specific language that makes precast the preferred material for drainage structures. That includes a quality assurance component – the NPCA Plant Certification Program (or equivalent) – as a mandatory requirement. You can read the spec here.
Now, the Department of Defense is mirroring the FAA specification upgrade, including the NPCA Plant Certification Program as a third-party QA program accepted for all architectural precast and drainage structures on DOD-funded projects. This DOD Unified Master Reference List houses all the specifications for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center and NASA.
We are continuing to codify precast concrete as the preferred material in these important federal specifications, working in cooperation with senior officials at the agencies. These specifications will create ongoing opportunities for the precast industry as the nation invests money in replacing and/or building new infrastructure – whether through a major Congressional bill or in a more piecemeal fashion.
But that’s only part of the story. The NPCA Plant Certification program continues to expand through our ongoing work with DOTs and municipalities. In Texas, the new Departmental Materials Specification now requires NPCA Plant Certification for drainage structures such as manholes, inlets, junction boxes and box culverts. The state of Michigan has recently added the NPCA certification requirement for drainage structures to go along with its previous requirement for MSE walls. In addition, we just expanded the specification in Oregon to include all precast concrete structures from the previous requirement of architectural precast.
This is behind-the-scenes spade work that takes months or years to accomplish and doesn’t get a lot attention. But influencing specifications in favor of precast concrete plays a vital role in paving the way (if you’ll pardon the pun) for precast concrete manufacturers and suppliers to play a central role in creating quality, resilient infrastructure that will serve our nation’s citizens for many decades to come. If you make precast for a living, there’s no better time to be PRECAST PROUD.